Avoiding Most Common Spine Surgery Complications

Almost all surgical procedures, even the simplest ones, have a bit of risk of complications. If you are considering spine or neck surgery, you should be conscious of that risk. The level of the risk depends on many factors, including your medical condition and lifestyle. For most patients, the risk can be managed, and their surgery can run smoothly. Before deciding, contact your doctor to discuss all the possibilities and seek some alternatives.  


What Can Increase the Risk for Spine Surgery Complications?

Most people who undergo spine surgery end up with a great outcome. However, you must know that some things increase the risk of complications. To mention a few:  

  • Cardiovascular disease,  
  • Low red blood cell count,  
  • Stage one diabetes,  
  • Heart problems,  
  • Corticosteroid medication,  
  • Osteoporosis,  
  • Obesity,  
  • Smoking.

Your spine surgeon can discover other risk factors by checking your medical history and running a physical examination. The presence of risk factors doesn’t mean that you are not going to have spinal surgery. The knowledge of it allows your surgeon to make better treatment recommendations and work accordingly to your needs.  


Potential Spine Surgery Complications

When it comes to complications, they can develop right before, during, or after the surgery. Here are some of the most common ones:


During surgery, some bleeding is normal or even expected. Surgeons use various techniques, devices, and instruments to control the bleeding and to stop it at the right moment. However, in rare cases, a blood vessel can be damaged during the process, or a surgeon can have a problem with stopping the blood flow.  

Blood Clots

People who have surgery in the lower body, including the lower spine, are at a higher risk of blood clots. In case the clot moves to the lungs, it can be a life-threatening complication.  

Anesthesia Risks  

While most people respond well to general anesthesia, there is a small risk that anesthesia is going to cause stroke, heart attack, brain damage, or even lead to death.  

Dural Tear  

The spine has a protective layer that prevents cerebrospinal fluid from leaking out. A dural tear (a moment when the protective layer is removed) can happen during spine surgery. In most cases, it is quickly repaired. A dural tear is quite common, yet it might create a risk for some of the patients.


The risk of infection is very small as surgeons work with sterile tools. Additionally, after surgery, people receive antibiotics to prevent unexpected infections around or under the wound.  

Nerve Damage  

The risk for neural damage such as bruises, cuts, etc., is very low thanks to very precise surgical tools that are used in modern medicine. Damaged nerves could lead to sexual dysfunctions, pain, or even paralysis.  

Lung Problems  

Anesthesia, medications, or even lack of physical activity caused by surgery can influence your lung function. To avoid these complications, practice deep breathing. Thanks to this, you can improve your lung function and decrease the risk of developing some severe lung conditions, for example, pneumonia.  

Chronic Pain  

Spine surgery can cause pain. However, you should monitor the level of the pain and how long you feel it. Always inform your surgeon about discomfort. While some amount of pain is normal, chronic pain can be a red flag and suggest post-surgery complications.

Spinal Implant Issues  

Your spine surgery might require inserting devices, plates, or other implants in your body. They stabilize the spine and allow you to function better. Those devices are durable and stable. However, in rare cases, they can move or break. When that happens, you might need a second surgery.  

Even though patients are often worried about the rejection of implants, that happens very rarely. Allergies to materials that the device is made of are also quite rare.  

Adjacent Segment Disease

This condition is a potential complication after a spinal fusion. When your spinal segments are fused, biomechanics can be alerted. When that happens, the way force and stress are distributed is changed. That can lead to instability and effective pain.  



When some less invasive treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, or injections, don’t bring expected relief, patients often decide on decompression surgery.  

A surgeon removes a small portion of bone. Thanks to this, the pressure of the spinal nerves is reduced. After the procedure, the patient gets a fusion. Two or more vertebrae are fused together to limit motion in the section that causes pain.  

This method of healing spine pain was popular for many years and helped many people. However, as with any surgery, this one also comes with the risk factor.  

This is why the TOPS System, which is a great alternative to spine fusion surgery, has become more popular. The Total Posterior Spine System is a small device that can be implanted into the segment of the spine that causes pain. It can help the patient to be more flexible and feel less or even no pain.  

The TOPS system replaces the soft tissue that was removed during spinal decompression surgery. It is an alternative to fusion surgery. Thanks to that, it lowers the risk of complications after decompression surgery and removes all the risk that comes with fusion surgery.

This system is used to create a solid area between the vertebrae. Thanks to this, the movement between bones is reduced, and, as an effect, the root of the nerve is less irritated.  

This alternative method of treating spine problems is commonly offered to patients with diseases such as lumbar spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis. The TOPS system is a good alternative for traditional fusion surgery because it is less invasive, but it also allows for more physical stability for the patients. The TOPS device offers a bigger range of movement. That means that installing this implant allows patients to go back to normal physical activities and enjoy them without pain.  

It is not yet proven, but some research shows that the TOPS system might be able to reduce the risk of complications after the surgery.  



To reduce the risk of spine surgery complications, be sure to give accurate health information to your surgeon. Before deciding on invasive methods, try alternatives that can sometimes provide you with even better effects than surgery.  



User Reviews


Your email address will not be published

3 + fifteen =

Written by HealthStatus Team
Medical Writer & Editor

View all post by HealthStatus Team